The Taliban Spring: Extremists Not Making US Exit From Afghanistan Easy

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Taliban fighters
PK-light machinegun and ammunition seized from captured suspected Taliban are presented to the media at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) headquarter in Kabul on March 15, 2013

April was the deadliest month so far in 2013 in Afghanistan, and the Taliban announced on Saturday that it isn't planning to let up as U.S.-led coalition forces prepare to hand over control of the country's security to the Afghani forces.

The Taliban announced a new "spring offensive" on Saturday, the AP reported, noting that the warmer weather makes traveling, fighting and staging suicide attacks easier.

The Taliban's leadership released a statement saying that "every possible tactic will be utilized in order to detain or inflict heavy casualties on the foreign transgressors." Suicide and insider attacks on military bases, Afghan forces and diplomatic areas are not off limits, the AP reported.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said it was ready for the new offensive. "The Afghan National Army is ready to neutralize the offensive," the ministry told the AP.

Despite U.S. efforts, the Taliban and the U.S.-supported Afghani government have never reconciled, and the Taliban has all but announced its intentions to re-take the country after the U.S. leaves in 2014.

"The insurgency can no longer use the justification that it is fighting foreign occupiers -- that message rings hollow," said U.S. Commander Marine General Joseph Dunford, the top commander in the region, said in a statement, noting that current Afghan forces number 350,000 soldiers and police.

The AP estimates that 257 civilians, Afghan soldiers and foreign soldiers were killed in April in Afghanistan. During the same time, 217 insurgents died.

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